I am on year three of caring for my soon-to-be 94-year-old mom in my home. The background details are copious and, quite frankly, it exceeds my emotional bandwidth to outline them here, so right to my questions.
My mother's hearing is very bad (VERY bad). Without hearing aids, she has approximately 15% speech comprehension in each ear; obviously, that would go up a bit with the aids, but communication is still really difficult. She may have some very mild, age-related cognitive impairment, but she is a very bright woman and is still compos mentis. So, we just had an argument about rum raisin ice cream. Yep, ice cream. This is my life now! She consulted me a couple of days ago about a crossword clue, and I told her I thought the answer was rum raisin. I said it multiple times to make sure she heard, and she seemed to. Today, she comes in and says, "You'll never guess what that answer turned out to be: rum raisin." I told her I had thought that was it, and had mentioned it. This precipitated a huge argument, during which she informed me she should "know by now not to say anything ever", and that she will just no longer talk. I already know I blew it, but I keep wanting to talk to her normally. I don't want to just agree with everything because it's easier, but is that what I should do? ("Rum raisin? Really? Imagine that.") Now I feel like a failure (again) for making my mom feel like she's incapable and for causing her distress. She even mimed a dagger to the chest when she recalled my telling her she hadn't heard me. She won't even let me apologize, because she says I'm "prolonging the argument"!
Second question: One of her hearing aids hasn't worked for a while, and she's refusing to let me replace it because of the cost. She still blames me for taking her to a local university audiology department because the care there is so expensive. Is this a decision I can override? I know it's going to be a couple thousand dollars, and that's not insignificant, but honestly, the havoc ensuing around here because her hearing isn't as good as it might be is taking a toll. I have been raising my voice literally for three years straight!
Apologies for a long rant. Thank you for reading and for the support.
* Speak clearly
* Allow lip reading
* Or speak up close to an ear
* Use more hand signals
My Mother never adjusted to hearing aides. Survived a significant health event & has refused them ever since.
She relied on lip reading until her sight deteriated. Now I use more simple hand signals.
Breathe. Leave the room when required to breathe.
I do get the frustration though! I am forever saying to my DH "I can't hear you" because he is speaking to me from another room.. 🙄
This is no time to be stubborn, and I can't for the life of me understand why people who'll happily wear glasses are so all-fired bullheaded about hearing aids.
Yes, they're expensive, but would she rather become more and more isolated from the world until she's literally unable to relate to the world?
The idea that the local university is expensive seems ridiculous, too. That's a teaching facility, and I'd assume they'd be less expensive than a private audiologist. Just don't tell her how much it costs, for a start. Drop a zero off the price when you talk to her about it.
I think the rum raisin thing is kind of a hoot, because it mirrors things around here often enough at 80 and 82 respectively. Also, my partner loves politics and loves looking at everything on Yahoo news while I hate it and avoid news. He comes at me with stories and I say "Did it occur to you I don't watch this stuff because I don't want to hear it?" and he says "I should know better than EVER to say ANYTHING". At this point it is kind of a joke.
I think sometimes when we are simply overwhelmed on many fronts things that are kind of funny are NOT anymore. If this is the worst that happens in your household I think both YOU and your MOM are just about ready to apply for Sainthood.
Not to make light of it when you are bothered. But this is so low on the totem pole of pain, of what can happen to us. I say, scoop up a rum-raisin on a sugar cone, extra large. I wish you the best.
Trust me. Year three of caring for your Mom who is 94. You are NOT a failure. You are a hero.
The argument was not about rum raisin ice cream. The argument was about solving a crossword clue. Highly delicate subject.
#1 if you have an answer for her, write it down (not on the crossword grid of course - that would be sacrilege!).
#2 we had an otherwise delightful, really delightful, client who was as deaf as a flipping post but loved to chat. I got her a small, cheap whiteboard and drywipe marker pen for brief messages as an alternative to hollering into her ear and bless her she was really pleased. Your mother might not be so willing to accept this solution at first, but it might give your voice small respite breaks and that would be something.
Deafness is exhausting, particularly when the person doesn't cheerfully accept its reality, and you have all my sympathy; it's also going to do her brain health no favours. See what you can do to progress getting the new aid short of dragging her there bodily - does it need refitting or could her audiologist replace the old one from an existing mould?
Sounds like your mother's ego is the biggest problem of all, and not wanting to spend any money, too. Which leaves you in the role of Bad Guy. I know it well. I was The Bad Guy for my mother for my whole life, but big time for the 10.5 years I was doing my best trying to care for her here in my state. She too was mostly deaf, but to hear her tell it, her hearing was fine, it was ME who was HOLLERING for no good reason. What saved my sanity was mom lived in Assisted Living then Memory Care when her dementia progressed to the point where AL was no longer an option. So my contact with her histrionics was limited, thank God.
So, should you agree with everything mom says in order to avoid 'catastrophic reactions'? Yeah, I guess so. What's YOUR sanity worth? With some MCI present, she's not one to argue with in the first place. With severe hearing loss & denial of it in force, you lose TWICE anyway. So I'd go with the 'agree with mom' at all costs program if it were me. B/c o/w you wind up 'feeling like a failure' when you're breaking your back trying to care for her in the first place!
You can override her decision about the hearing aids if you have financial POA I guess, but do you really want to go that route? Then you'll be The Bad Guy x 10,000. I'd go with the dry erase board first, and see if that works. When my mother broke her glasses for the 4th time, I had them replaced (with financial POA) and told her MEDICARE paid for it, which was a lie, b/c I did NOT want to hear the backlash about the cost. You can go that route I guess, if you think it's possible, and if you can write the check w/o her knowledge :)
Good luck. I know you have your hands full and I also know how terribly HARD it is to deal with an elder with bad hearing loss. NO I'M NOT SCREAMING AT YOU MOM, HONESTLY :(